#249 – Going Public With Your Sobriety with Ann Dowsett Johnston


How do you go public with your sobriety? What if everyone warns you it will be the end of your career if you do? Ann and Veronica discuss how they went public with their sobriety and the confusion between anonymity and secrecy.

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about this episode

“It is powerful to tell the truth.” – Ann Dowsett Johnston

Have you ever noticed how certain health issues are met with compassion, while others are shrouded in stigma?

I remember a client who, after a conversation with a fellow mom who had stopped drinking, found the inspiration to pursue sobriety. 20 years ago, these interactions were rare, but today, they’re becoming more common.

With the pervasive stigma around alcoholism, the decision to go public with your sobriety is a daunting prospect. At the same time, there’s something empowering about freely sharing your experiences.

Today, I’m talking to bestselling author Ann Dowsett Johnston about telling people about your sobriety and why it’s time we treat alcohol problems with the same empathy and understanding as any other health condition. When Ann decided to be open about her alcoholism, she faced a lot of resistance from her family and friends. Yet, she found it liberating to share her story, a sentiment I deeply resonate with.

In this conversation, Ann and I talk about why it’s important to be open about sobriety and our experience with revealing our struggles with alcohol.

Ann Dowsett Johnston is the bestselling author of Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol, named one of the top 10 books of 2013 by The Washington Post. An award-winning journalist with more than 30 years of experience, Ann is a prominent voice on the issue of women and risky drinking, winning many awards for her advocacy, including an honorary degree from Queen’s University. Now a psychotherapist working primarily with women, Ann also leads a dynamic memoir workshop called Writing Your Recovery, designed to help would-be writers mine the story within.

In this episode, Ann and I talk about:

  • The challenges of revealing a drinking problem when you’re in a high-profile position
  • Ann’s experience with gradually revealing her sobriety in the media and on her social platforms
  • The dilemma of disclosing a drinking problem while working in prominent roles
  • Positive outcomes and feedback we received after openly discussing struggles with alcohol
  • Why it’s important to be a part of breaking the stigma
  • Navigating social situations and presenting your sobriety to others.=
  • The potential professional consequences of disclosing sobriety and the liberating effect of openly discussing struggles
  • The ripple effect of sharing your sobriety story
  • Comparing public reactions to alcoholism with other health issues
  • Key differences between anonymity and secrecy
  • The evolution of the perception of anonymity in the context of addiction
  • Managing the fear of public relapse and the shift toward openness in recovery
  • The shifting nature of the stigma surrounding addiction and recovery

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